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[143]

In 1863, he was promoted to major-general, Stuart having been advanced to the command of the corps. By this time his skill, activity and brilliant courage had won for him one of the first reputations in the army. General R. E. Lee, writing to him, said: ‘Your admirable conduct, devotion to the cause of your country and devotion to duty; fill me with pleasure.’

The importance of Spotsylvania Courthouse in the campaign of 1864 was vital, and it was Fitz Lee's Cavalry that held the ground against the advances of Grant's Army, until the Confederate Infantry arrived.

Yellow Tavern,” which saved Richmond, where our superb Stuart fought his last battle, was won by his old and favorite division, now commanded by Fitz Lee. The dying chieftain said, while his life was ebbing away: ‘Go ahead, Fitz, old fellow, I know you will do what is right,’ which Fitz ever regarded a ‘most precious legacy.’ General Bragg, in a letter to, him, after the battle, said: ‘The resistance there had enabled him to withdraw troops from Drewry's Bluff to man the works on that side of the city.’

Stuart and Fitz Lee were very like in temperament, and devoted as brothers. Both were full of fun, and their gaiety never forsook them even amid the darkest and most trying ordeals. On the march they generally rode together, and their songs and peals of laughter could often be heard far down the column, above the trampling of the horses and the clanking of the sabres, and were a solace to many weary and homesick hearts.

Ream's Station was one of General Fitz's best fights, when his division, with two of Mahone's Brigades, struck Wilson's two Divisions of Federal Cavalry, stripped them of their spoils and put them to ignominious route, capturing all their wagons, eighteen pieces of artillery, their ambulances and 800 negroes, who had been abducted from their homes.

In the battle of Winchester, September 19, 1864, Sheridan's first success over Early in the Valley, Fitz Lee did all that was possible to stem the adverse tide. Three horses were shot under him—one his favorite, Nellie Gray—and then he himself was brought to the ground by a minie ball in the thigh.

In the spring of 1865 he was placed in command of the cavalry corps of the army, and followed its fortunes till the end came

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